Late Rally Falls Short for Utah Baseball at No. 19 Arizona State
PHOENIX—Utah mounted an eighth-inning rally and had the tying run at third base with just one out, but could not come up with the clutch hit and fell, 4-3, Friday night to 19th-ranked Arizona State in the opening game of a three-game series at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Centerfielder Jaylon McLaughlin was 2-4 with one RBI and a run scored, and first-baseman Trey Clarkson was 1-4 with a two-run home run for the Utes, who fell to 1-6 on the season. Redshirt-junior Justin Kelly, making his third start of the season, was effective in six-plus innings pitched, allowing just three earned runs and striking out six while scattering seven hits. Kelly (0-3) took the loss, and Dustyn Schramm pitched 1-1/4 innings of hitless ball in relief of Kelly.
The Utes, trailing 4-2 in the top of the eighth, narrowed the deficit to one run on a one-out RBI single by McLaughlin to score Vinny Zavolta, who had led off the inning being hit by a pitch and advanced to second when Matt Richardson was walked.
With Richardson on third, McLaughlin stole second and ASU walked Jayden Kiernan to load the bases with just one out. The Sun Devils ended the threat by enticing Clarkson to fly out to right, too shallow to score Richardson, and Kai Roberts made solid contact but lined out to shortstop for the third out.
Utah put forth a valiant effort, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third when McLaughlin led off with a bunt single, followed by Clarkson's two-run homer to center field. It was the first home run of the season for Clarkson, from nearby Gilbert, Ariz., and the second of his career.
The Sun Devils struck back in the bottom of the fourth, manufacturing two runs after opening the inning with back-to-back singles. With runners on second and third, a sacrifice fly brought in the first ASU run, and a ground-out to second brought home another to tie the game at 2-2.
Kelly allowed just two earned runs through the first six innings, while striking out five, before the Sun Devils broke through for two more runs in the seventh. A leadoff double led to one run, and two Utah errors brought home a second run in the inning to give ASU a 4-2 lead entering the eighth inning, and the Sun Devils held on for the 4-3 win.
The two teams will meet again Saturday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. for the middle game of the series. Follow all the action on Twitter and watch the livestream from ASU via UtahUtes.com.